Wednesday, March 10, 2010

we did so in a hurry


Nov. 29, 1942

This morning around 6:30 AM I was awakened by a loud explosion. It sounded as if one of the harbors had blown up. The boat rocked to and fro and I went up in the bed a couple of times. I knew then that we had been torpedoed. By the time my feet hit the floor, water was pouring in and the room was full of smoke. I took time enough to put on my pants and shoes. By the time I got out on deck, the port side of the ship was practically touching the water.

We could hardly walk to the starboard side. While we were waiting for the command to Abandon Ship, we saw the Jap sub fire two torpedoes at the USS Burnette. Which missed. I mean, she was getting the heck outta there. Then we got the command to Abandon Ship and we did so in a hurry.

Some of the fellows (4 of them) in their haste to get off, jumped into the screws (propellers) and were ground to bits. One fellow tried to save another one and he got caught, too. Some jumped close to the ship & got sucked under. A horrible sight.

We were finally picked up by landing boats and rafts & were safe on shore. Then they started dropping depth charges (ash-cans) by the tons. They accounted for 6 to 8 men killed and quite a few wounded. By the time we reached shore, the ship was really burning. We went back to help fight the fire, but there was nothing we could do about it because the gas drums had exploded and all the oil on the water around the ship was a blazing inferno.


This is Harry's War Diary

Eyewitness account of the sinking of USS Alchida as told by Private Haslam. They were keenly aware of the possibility of being struck by torpedo, and Harry has mentioned the danger several times in his diary since leaving New Caledonia. Surviving this attack was one of the most memorable events of WWII for Harry, and when he told this story (in person) he would say "the Navy fellows were the first ones to jump off". He and his Army group waited for the Abandon Ship command.

This section of Harry's War Diary doesn't contain any dates. At all. If you've been following the diary posts, you're familiar with Harry's habit of using a complete date. I believe this demonstrates the level of stress that these fellows were under.

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